Powers of Diaspora: Two Essays on the Relevance of Jewish Culture

Powers of Diaspora: Two Essays on the Relevance of Jewish Culture

Powers of Diaspora: Two Essays on the Relevance of Jewish Culture

Powers of Diaspora: Two Essays on the Relevance of Jewish Culture

Synopsis

Focusing on Jewish experience, the authors forcefully argue that diasporic communities exercise a distinct form of cultural power in order to maintain themselves.

Excerpt

Herein two brothers seek to evoke the diasporic genius of Jewishness, that genius that consists in the exercise and preservation of cultural power separate from the coercive power of the state. To say that such diasporic power exists outside of history would surely risk confusion, for we are still not so far from the days when Jewish absence from history was a commonplace or (what is much the same thing) when continued Jewish presence was considered either an uncanny or a wonderful mystery. To say that the creative and corrective work of thought about Jewishness and the West that has taken place since World War II has merely placed the Jews back into history is less confusing, but it says too little: for what is distinctive about cultures of diaspora is, in large part, the way that they deny the progressive or linear rubrics of secular historiography.

This book was born from our conviction that the cultural strategies of Jewish diaspora—of regeneration through statelessness—speak well (if only the translators are present and adept) to the dilemmas and the possibilities of the “new diasporas” born in the midst and in the aftermath of the modern . . .

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